Gratitude 30August17 Where is an Ark When You Need One? 

Long Island Tech News

As I watch Hurricane Harvey on television, I have to remind myself I am not watching some Will Smith crazy world survival movie. This is real life, the rain will not stop, people are in life and death situations.

While channel hopping and listening to the commentators, I started to get a picture of the devastation, Houston, in particular, is in right now. 

Most horrifying are the experts of geographical, architecture, and climate change that are saying this was a ticking-time bomb. It was predicted. 

Houston is built on basic swamp land. It has been in a high growth development phase since the 1980’s. It would seem to assist in this endeavor, the city has no zoning laws. Meaning that — at risk to the environment and safety of their people — builders had free reign. 

While this new construction was going on, something was not. The city’s infrastructure of drainage systems was outdated and not kept current. Some new construction is being found to have actually blocked drainage systems. 

Add to this, many of Houston drainage routes are along roads. And because their soil is clay, it does not absorb water well

Developers building before Obama era of new flood regulations were allowed to build with materials that didn’t have flood protection standards. 

Obama’s administration put into place in 2015, flood-risk analysis connected to federal dollars spent.  The intent being to build smarter, to save dollars later when natural disaster happens.

Ironically, ten days ago, before Hurricane Harvey’s full assault hit, the residing president of the United States removed the layers of regulations ensuring federal flood standards to protect citizens and the environment.

Houston will now rebuild, Bloomberg Markets puts that cost in the $30 billion dollar range yesterday, with no zoning or infrastructure codes and no material flood standards in place so history can repeat itself.

After seeing some of the pictures, people stating they have lost everything. Watching cars float down streets. And seniors in their nursing home up to their waist in swamp water, I began wondering about flood insurance. What kind of protection do these people have?

Even though federal law requires certain homeowners to carry flood insurance, only a quarter of the homes or 240,000 in Harris County where Houston is located, had flood insurance according to CNBC.

The senators from Texas who declined to vote for financial aid support to the states on the east coast when Hurricane Sandy tragically hit in 2012 are touting a different message now that the hurricane is in their backyard.

What will not help hurricane survivors is the anticipated 2018 Federal Budget that cuts hundreds of millions that supports programs associated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for natural disasters such as this.

Also, noticeable quiet is the connection between the hottest summer in current history, the rising of the sea level, and the current administration denial of climate change. 

I would say Mother Nature might be getting everyone’s attention now. Ark, anyone?

Today I am thankful

  • I get time with my sweet and spicy granddaughter today. 
  • I saw Moana for the first time. Great movie. 
  • I had the strangest dream last night. I always treasure when those who have gone before me visit me. I am sending up blessings. 

 Whatever small token or gesture you can send or do to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey will be greatly appreciated. I donated directly through the Red Cross. 

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 31August17 Princess Diana

Princess Diana

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic passing of Diana, Princess of Wales.

It was one of those moments in history that you remember what you were doing and where you were.

The accident happened late Saturday night. It was announced at 6:00 am Paris time Sunday morning that Diana, Princess of Wales had died at age 36.

All that day and several after, I was in front of my television as the news came in and they brought Diana home to London from Paris. I watched the world mourn. I prayed and worried about her boys.

In full disclosure, before someone outs me, yes, I did send Diana and Charles an elite silver Cuisine toaster for their wedding. I hope she got it in the divorce.

And maybe Birthday and Christmas cards over those years.

Princess Diana was the fairy tale story that people are in awe about. We didn’t know her gilded castle was also her prison. Looks are deceiving — aren’t they?

I admired her independent spirit in all areas of her life. She actually defied the royal family establishment odds and became her own woman. She reached out and touched people figuratively and literally.

If you want to know Diana, you simply have to look at her son’s, William and Harry. They carry with them, the childhood valued lessons she gifted them.

Today I am thankful

  • A content and peaceful time. Grateful.
  • I am in the crafting mood.
  • A tad relieved it will be a restful holiday weekend. I am looking forward to seeing family and friends.
  • My heartbeats. Everyday. All day.

Diana was someone’s mother, sister, aunt, significant other, and friend.

It is easy to forget celebrities, and those we admire are simply people with feelings like you and I. They are just gifted people with talents, or have been placed in a situation in the public arena.

That does not mean they sell their souls to the public.

As icons, it is a fine line. We want to know what their life is like inside that fishbowl.

The fame, the fortune, that life style most of us will never know. Yet, having our faces against the fishbowl through social media makes us conspirators in the constant barrage on the boundaries of famous people’s privacy.

It is a conundrum for them and us. The price of fame. Death is the ultimate cost.

Her brother, Earl Spencer said in her eulogy, ” … the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds.”

Rest easy, Princess.

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 29August17 What to Say and Do

I just read a book that is equally insightful and helpful. It is called There Is No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do when life is scary, awful, and unfair to people you love.

The authors, Kelsay Crowe, Ph.D. and Emily McDowell, describe it best at the beginning of the book. It’s not a chicken soup, it is more like a shot of whiskey.

The book itself is aesthetically pleasing with bright colors and attractive fonts to lighten the mood on such a massive topic. They succeeded. It is easy to read and follow the script. There are many creative sayings along the way, as well.

The book’s premise is when tragedy comes to those close to us, be it, family or friends, we often don’t know what to say or do.  More often than not, it sends us into a paralysis mode where we don’t say or do anything.

The topics are wide ranging — breakups, illness, and death — are the top three.

 

It’s not that we don’t have good intentions. We just don’t know what to say or do. Or the fear of saying or doing something wrong can be just as persuasive.

 

The other reality the book points out, is some people want to express empathy but really don’t have the resources or time to help beyond that.

A fascinating part of the book for me was when they discussed how compassion and empathy are different. “We consider compassion to be the heart’s natural, instinctive response to the pain of others.” Empathy is when you use your imagination to expand your ability to feel compassion for people in situations beyond those you have experienced,”

The authors dedicated a whole chapter devoted to “Listening Speaks Volumes.” It has a thorough discernment of what type of listener and nonlistener are you. Many tips on conversations openers and connect with others.

 

The question that always bothers me is “How are you?” It is such a routine thing to ask and mundane, yet, for a chronically ill person, it’s like — “I still feel like I got ran over by a truck.” Or we do what people always do, we lie, “I’m great.” An uncomfortable set-up.

 

The book says you should be more specific. The authors offered sayings like, “Do you want to talk about it?” or “How’s that going for you?” “How are you doing, now?”

At the end of the book, Chapter 7: Empathy Directory: Dos and Don’t Cheat Sheets are a comprehensive guide to the whole book in chart form. Complete with lists of thoughtful gestures in various degrees to which you could help someone.

Today I am thankful

  • The sun is shining and it is a beautiful day in my neighborhood.
  • Well, thank you HuffPost. They posted an article today on the most effective motions for a woman to achieve an orgasm.
  • I have stuff I really need to do and all I can think about is waffles with maple syrup and my coffee with pumpkin spice creamer.

The standard sending “Thoughts and Prayers” is all good and dandy. Yet, there is so much more that is needed by those in a stressful situation.

One of the things this book made clear, was small gestures count for significant effects. No matter how small you think your effort is, it can make a large difference in the world of someone.

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 28August17 The Best Lessons

Today I am thankful

  • I am very relieved to be able to stay home today.
  • I am reading my new Women’s Book Club feature. The Sixth Idea by P.J. Tracy. I am not much for mystery, but, this is a good one. Interesting note, it is written by two women from my hometown.
  • Beyond excited to be with my grandbabies and grand-puppy in the near future.

The saying on the above picture touched my heart. Sometimes, I want it all too perfect. Sometimes, I need it to make too much sense.

Life and growth are about perpetual change. And there is nothing perfect about change. It is about acceptance of self at all stages.

Hey, not all those stages are champagne moments. But, much more than those were priceless memories.

The person I am today? How could I not be thankful?

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 27August17 I Believe

I believe in God. I believe He had a son, Jesus, who died so I may live. I believe in Mary, the mother of Jesus. I pray to her more than the men. Women get things done.

I believe in angels. I believe in the concept of heaven. Often, I think our heaven and hell begins here on earth in our choices. I believe in the Rainbow Bridge for animals.

I believe.

I can not tell you in words why I believe. It is a feeling deep within my spirit that just knows. It is more than a feeling. It is a part of my being.

An essential thread in the fabric of my life. 

I don’t negate or get into a debate of proving there is or is not a God. I am secure and content with my belief. You are welcome to yours without judgment.

I believe.

All I need to do is put my hand over my heart and feel it beating. I can see this screen. I can hear the birds outside. My fingertips can feel the keys as I type. I taste my coffee as I take a sip. All of my body parts are functioning somewhat normally.

I embrace the four exact moments — my children first breath announcing their arrival as they entered the world and the final breaths of my parents as they ended their life journey. Both, so powerful, in the start and end of the precious circle of life.

I believe.

In my lifetime so far, I have witnessed architectural creations that boggle the mind. Bridges that span miles and building that tower into the sky. Technology has advanced beyond my wildest dreams. I will push a button, and this will be sent to over 200+ people in five countries.

We just witnessed a solar eclipse in its totality. We have space stations. We have put a man on the moon.  We are watching the hurricane fury of Mother Nature in the lower United States.

With all the challenges. Louis Armstrong still said it best, “What a Wonderful World.”

Today I am thankful

  • I woke up grateful. I woke up prayerful. Giving thanks for my life.
  • I am thinking of my dad. Dad this song is for you. I know you are out there cruising in your new car, rolling your dice somewhere in the galaxy, among the stars, and the moon.
  • I broke down and bought Pumpkin Spice creamer yesterday. My coffee tastes like — what it feels like — fall this morning.
  • And last, but not least, someone saw “green clovers, yellow moons, pink hearts, and orange stars” when he got his Lucky Charms ass TKO’d last night. (Sorry, Jesus, I was doing so good.)

I believe in God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is my belief there is something much greater than us. I don’t need anyone to scientifically prove it. I don’t need a shroud or century old scripture. I believe.

I suppose I should put a disclaimer in here: God and I have an understanding. I am not an institutionalized or dedicated church-based anything.

ChocolatIf you have ever seen the movie Chocolat, there is a scene at the end where the Pere Henry, young village Priest gives a homily about inclusion. Here is a piece of it.

I would not be alive today, if not for the grace of God. Psalm 46:10 Be Still and Know that I AM.

And on the seventh day, God rested. So should you.

affectionately your, Laura

Gratitude 22August17 Salt of the Earth

Salt Water 2

Yes, I am a woman who puts bowls of unrefined sea salt in strategic places around her house. It is what I use as a cleansing ritual to absorb any unwanted negative energy that might slip in. 

Interestingly enough, I have never used a lot of salt on my food, despite my fascination with the mineral.

Salt historically was highly valued and the word salary is derived from it. Salt was used as the first item to barter with. Phrases such as “Not worth its weight in salt,” or “The salt of the earth.” was used to gauge the quality of a product.

That tiny crystal-like diamond shaped mineral, we use daily has a history literally from the beginning of time.

“Salt is born of the purest parents; the sun and the sea.” Pythagoras

The human body can not function without salt in the form of sodium. It is absorbed and metabolized for the relaxing and contracting of our muscle fibers, transmitting of nerve impulses, and fluid balance.

If you’ve ever had a cramp, you have experienced the effects of dehydration, low potassium, and other nutrients all associated with sodium.

Interesting fact: Our blood and tears have the same salt percentage as the ocean water.

I guess you could call me a New Ager. Someone who looks at alternative approaches to traditional Western culture, such as spirituality, holism, medicine, and mysticism.

I am always on the lookout for something new or interesting for my health, well-being, and the environment.

 

Salt Lamp

This is my Himalayan pink salt lamp. ©llpeltier 2017

So, when Himalayan pink salt lamps came on the scene, my first thought was “Oh, pretty and salt!”

The salt lamp’s claim to fame is elevating mood, calming allergy symptoms, improved sleep, increased serotonin levels, among many other things depending on the ad you are reading.

The premise is that the use for the lamps success is that dirt and allergens get trapped in airborne water molecules around us. Salt is naturally hygroscopic — meaning it pulls water molecules from the air — and that gets stuck to the lamp when it is drawn to it.

If you have ever spent time next to a waterfall, ocean, or even outside after a rainstorm — you will notice a difference in the air. There seems to be calming effect and the air smells cleaner. I live in Minnesota, and I notice this even after a heavy snowfall. That is because the molecular bonds of the water break and negative ions are released.

Negative ions pull positive ions from the air. Positive ions are things like air pollution and emissions from electrical devices. There are studies about the effects of the binding of negative ions to positive ions that affect everything from oxygen and serotonin levels to asthma and alleviation of stress.

So, I bought a beautiful Himalayan pink salt lamp. In all fairness, it has not been a life-altering experience.  I dug a bit deeper into the lamps history.

First of all, there are no salt mines in the Himalayan mountain range. The salt actual comes from salt mines in Pakistan. While the lamps may in very tiny minuscule amounts emit negative ions, not enough to make a real difference. A houseplant might be more effective, to be honest.

It is more of a mental affirmation than scientific one — although you will find testimonies online from people who swear by them.

Because the negative ions do attract positive ions, I wipe down my lamp about once a week with a damp cloth. The lamp I purchased is a globe, which I read is not as effective because the ions attach more easily to the broad raw rough surfaced lamps.

Today I am thankful

  • A beautiful day. The sun is shining and it is a blue sky.
  • I am almost done with all of my password updates — whew — what a chore that is!
  • So excited! I am signing up for a painting class with one of my favorite humans. 😉

I am an advocate for anything that makes you feel better about you. And for me, I am digging this salt lamp. I have gotten many hours of enjoyment from its beautiful glow and the thought that it possibly could be making positive changes in my environment.

Alas, I could just have a very pricy night light. 

 affectionately yours, Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude 21August17 The Sun Loved The Moon


Today we are being gifted with a rare once in a lifetime cosmic observation of a total solar eclipse. The last total eclipse was back in 1918, and there was an eclipse in 1979. However, only the far northwest United States was able to view it.

This celestial event occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. Because of the rate of speed, the earth is rotating around the sun, the eclipse will be happening relatively fast. The actual eclipse being 2 minutes and 40 seconds at its peak.

When the moon actually covers the sun in its entirety, the suns tenuous atmosphere or the haze around it — the corona — will glow and be visible.

 

Also, visible will be what is called the “Diamond Ring Effect” and the “Baileys Beads” as the moon covers and leaves the sun.

 At the time of the total eclipse, the temperature will drop, in 1979 a drop of 15 degrees was recorded. Because of the darkness it causes, it is a confusing time for animals and plants, who might think momentarily, it’s bedtime.

The path that the solar eclipse will follow across the United States of America is approximately 70 miles wide. The total eclipse will be viewed in fourteen states. The rest of the United States will only see partial views. All of this is pending weather conditions.

Aside from the astrological aspect of the solar eclipse, spiritually for some, it manifests itself much like a new moon. With the sun being our external self, and the moon a time to put a plan in place for our goals.

Today I am thankful

  • What an excellent time to be alive. To witness this spectacular event.
  • I am off my exercise and diet routine and feeling it. This week will be about getting back on track.
  • A sad week ahead. Saying farewell to another auntie who blessed our lives.
  • A lot of words to write. Ready to get this done.
  • I am sending love into the universe to those I miss so very, very much.

I have always liked the stories and quotes about the sun and moon. How the sun loved the moon so much, she died every night so he could shine. There are many versions of it, each culture has their own tale.

Today will be the ultimate in that story, won’t it?

affectionately yours, Laura

***This is not a drill, please, wear certified eye protection today. If you have solar sunglasses, they should have the International Certification #12312-2 imprinted on the inside of them. Anything else, if a fake.

Without the proper protection of solar filters, you can experience what is called “Eclipse Blindness.” That happens when your eye’s retina is burned from sun exposure. Because the retina does not have any pain receptors, you do not know you have done any damage immediately. It will show up approximately 12-hours later in the form of severely blurred vision and the inability to focus.